On Tooley Street, once:
—Are you familiar with the derivation, he asks.
St. Olave, which, over the centuries, the common tongue smeared out — and took away the church, the foreign saint. Norsemen arriving, owning, making legacy.
Over generations, reaching towards civilisation.
The Walworth Road, named for William, who did the king’s bidding even before the King knew his own mind, and cut down anarchist Wat Tyler in cold blood; William lived on well, as a merchant and kingsman.
Kilburn and Southwark, Westbourne and Crouch End,
Moving and still, lived and mapped.
To reach Elephant, not named for the Infanta de Castilla,
—Although everything has a reason. Teleological, in this case, is it not, he asks.
That in this urban desert we should make our camp at the sign of The Fisherman’s Wharf,
And slake our thirsts with porter;
Who can think that not bizarre,
If stopped and thought?
Seeing only roads of metalled stone, no herons and waterfowl, no willows, no brown trout or barbel of the river.
Mitcham and Wembley, Ickenham and Buckhurst
That an angler plodding his weary way, The Jolly Angler, might connect with any of this.
Look! The Boathouse, how can that be, some deceiver thus named perched beside Gypsy Hill?
—Are you aware that Goodfellow often meant ‘highwayman’? What a reverse that might turn out to be.
And he chuckles. A snippet held against its usefulness at a later time.
Denmark Hill and Blackfriars, Tooting Bec and Crystal Palace,
History as a paper resistance against the vivid Present, pulped and reformed by every new event;
Our first opinion sometimes we must revise,
Even if we erroneously think
By denn or daire or dûn, the contours were fixed eternal,
By castra and burna, stoc and tun,
By thorp and wic, we got locked up.
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When No One is Looking by Hannah Shilling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.